Self-Improvement Month: Naoko, Gina and Kentaro

September 25, 2019

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September is Self-Improvement Month, an observance designed to encourage people to make empowering changes to reach their goals. At FleishmanHillard, we encourage our teams to never settle. This month we’ll highlight employees across our global network who embody our bold approach and strive to grow professionally and personally. Responses will be shared in Q&A format featuring their unique perspectives.

We’ll conclude our content series with Naoko Nakayama, Gina Simonis and Kentaro Hitoshi.

Naoko Nakayama, senior account manager, supporting our Brand Marketing practice in Tokyo

Naoko Nakayama

Q: Who is someone that inspired you to be where you are today and how?

A: It was my fortune that I met so many impressive people in my career. Among them, I learned a lot through working with a digital creative director when I worked at an ad agency. At that time, the digital field was emerging, and his deep knowledge was inspiring. However, the most impressive thing about him was that he had the ability to develop a dynamic communication strategy whether the campaign utilized digital or traditional tactics. While I’ve mostly worked in traditional PR, I try to keep in mind the dynamic communication ideas that I learned from him.

Q: What do you do when you experience a setback? How do you overcome it?

A: The most important thing when I have a setback is how I can manage my negative emotions caused by the setback. I would say the most effective solution is to meet and ask people – seniors, friends and colleagues – their advice about how they overcome their setbacks and what kinds of options I could take so that I can turn the setback into a learning experience.

Q: What do you think is the best thing someone can do to advance their career?

A: I think it is important to stop what we are doing and try to do different things. After 10 years of experience in traditional PR, I became a student again and went to New York to study. There was no guarantee I’d get a better job after coming back to Japan, but I took the risk. I can say it was the right decision now and my career today is based on this experience.

Gina Simonis, managing supervisor, supporting our Financial & Professional Services sector in New York 

Gina Simonis

Q: How do you stay up-to-date with new offerings in your industry, practice group and/or sector? 

A: I make it a priority to stay connected with my colleagues and network with professionals in the industry. Establishing and fostering a network is an asset I obtained while studying at Penn State. It has proven to be an asset throughout my career and was the catalyst that sparked my career in public relations. Furthermore, I think it is imperative to allot time each day to consume the news related to your sector; I subscribe to a plethora of newsletters and podcasts to keep myself informed on current events and trends around the world.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you can give to others working on their own professional development?

A: I would encourage everyone to establish a relationship with a mentor. Ideally, identify someone you can share your goals with and brainstorm innovative solutions to the challenges you are facing. It is important to keep in mind that your mentor could be someone inside or outside your industry. I have had a few mentors throughout my career, and it has helped me make strides towards my professional goals.

Q: How do you seek and implement feedback?

A: I establish an open line of communication both up and down the organization. I make it clear that I welcome constructive criticism and consistently seek valuable feedback from my managers and peers. I thrive off performance-based feedback and leverage it to constantly improve all facets of my life. I don’t think anyone should be afraid of asking for feedback, it only helps you learn and improve upon yourself.

Kentaro Hitoshi, senior account manager, supporting our Brand Marketing practice in Tokyo

Kentaro Hitoshi

Q: What’s a specific area of your career you want to develop over the next year? How do you plan to do so?

A: I am aiming to develop my career by creating social content. There is an emerging demand for this in Japan and companies are eager to learn how they can create better social channels that will contribute to their business. Because my former job was at a broadcasting company creating TV programs, I am also eager to learn to develop efficient and powerful content across channels. I will accomplish this by remaining passionate and discussing with my impressive colleagues who encourage me. A special thanks to the global Social and Innovation team and my great colleague Laura Snearly.

Q: What do you think is the best thing someone can do to advance their career?

A: I am still unsure if I should be a specialist in one field or become a generalist who is engaged in many fields. I am trying to develop the latter. I recently read the book “Multiply Your Career.” Multiplying your career means experiencing various occupations that inspire you in order to differentiate yourself. As just a PR account manager, I might not be unique. But I stand out as a former broadcasting program director, a person who was raised in New York and Paris, an individual who worked with the London/Rio/PyeongChang Paralympics and an expert with B2B technology in Japan

Q: How do you seek and implement feedback?

A: Ask questions. People may get sick of me but learning from individuals’ various ways of thinking is the best teacher. I always receive feedback which I never thought of, and that is a way to get inspired.